Beer in cupcakes? These Guinness Cupcakes have Guinness in both the cupcake and the frosting and are absolutely delicious. They're the perfect St. Patrick's Day dessert, but can be enjoyed any time of year!
(This recipe for Guinness Cupcakes was originally published in June 2009, but was updated with new photos in 2020).
After realizing alcohol in cupcakes is amazing (see red wine cupcakes), my mind started working overtime. What else could I do? What other spirits could I involve in my baked goods?
Then I realized the only logical next step. Beer! But beer in a cupcake? Would it work? I immediately thought that Guinness would be the best bet. Really, you could use any kind of stout beer here, but since Guinness is basically the official beer of St. Patrick's Day, I chose the super popular brand and got to work.
And these cupcakes certainly do work! The Guinness helps make these chocolate cupcakes especially moist and incredibly flavorful. Yes, they're perfect for St. Patrick's Day, but Guinness cupcakes can be served any time of year!
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
You'll love these cupcakes because they're way more interesting and delicious than the typical chocolate cupcake.
Not only do the Guinness beer and sour cream in the cupcakes help make them more moist, but the melted butter helps make them ultra rich.
The cupcakes are super easy to make (you don't need a stand mixer or even an electric hand mixer!) and are perfect for any Guinness lover or any St. Patrick's Day celebration!
Aside from a can of Guinness, this dessert involves pretty typical chocolate cupcake ingredients and you likely have most of them in your pantry already.
Here's everything you need for the cupcakes (please see recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions):
- Unsalted butter
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Dark brown sugar
- Sour cream
- Large eggs
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
And here's what you'll need for the Guinness frosting:
- Unsalted butter
- Confectioners' sugar
🧈 Why use melted butter in cupcakes?
These Guinness cupcakes are very easy to make, though this technique is just just a little bit different in that it has you melting the butter into the beer as the first step. You thought Guinness was delicious... How about Guinness with butter mixed in?
Using melted butter in cupcakes results in a bit of a denser and richer cake. So, this may not be the recipe for you if you are looking for super light and fluffy cupcakes. But if you like a sturdier cake, these are perfect!
There tends to be a fine line for density in baking. "Dense" can get a bad name, but when it comes to chocolate cakes, I often love a little density as it makes them richer and more decadent.
The dark brown sugar and sour cream contribute to this richness a bit, too. Overall, this technique results in the ideal chocolate cupcakes for me.
Another great thing about this melted butter cupcake method is that you don't need a stand mixer or even a hand mixer... It's all done in the large saucepan in which you melt the butter and Guinness together!
🧁 How to make Guinness cupcakes
To start, line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add Guinness and cubed butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and whisk until butter melts; remove from heat.
Whisk in cocoa powder and brown sugar.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Add that to the beer and butter mixture.
In a separate large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. I do recommend sifting since I've noticed this batter has a tendency to get a bit lumpy and sifting the dry ingredients definitely helps prevent this from happening.
Combine flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, folding until the dry ingredients are all incorporated and most lumps are gone. But take care not to over-mix as this can result in dry cupcakes. It's OK if you have a few lumps!
Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full.
And bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 19-21 minutes, until a toothpick stuck into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Let cool for a few minutes in the pans before removing to a rack to let cool completely.
🎂 How to make Guinness frosting
The first time I made these Guinness cupcakes, I made a sour cream frosting, which was delicious. But this time I opted for a Guinness frosting instead. Really, it's just a simple buttercream frosting with Guinness mixed in instead of milk.
If you want to get really crazy, you can add a couple drops of green food coloring to your Guinness frosting, but I kept my frosting natural and added a green sprinkle mix instead. Plus, I used some green cupcake papers.
I used a Wilton #1A piping tip to frost the cupcakes, which I think is one of the easiest and visually appealing ways.
If you're not planning to bring all 24 Guinness chocolate cupcakes to a St. Patrick's Day celebration, I recommend digging into one right away.
I think I love everything about these. I really like that the beer flavor is present, but not overpowering. Guinness fans will likely go wild for these, but your friends who don't like beer should also enjoy them.
Because that chocolate flavor is bursting through the subtle nuttiness of the the beer.
Similarly, the Guinness frosting is a dream. It's light and fluffy and perfectly sweet with a super subtle Guinness taste. If you're going to celebrate Guinness this St. Patrick's Day (or any day), you may as well go big, right??
But really, you can make these cupcakes at any time of year, because stout is always in style and there's no wrong time for chocolate stout cupcakes.
🎉 Flavor variations
The Guinness in these cupcakes is obviously pretty imperative. But there's a lot you can do to switch up these cupcakes and make them your own. Here are a few ideas:
- I love the double dose of Guinness in both the cake and the frosting, but Baileys Irish Cream also makes an amazing frosting. Just replace the Guinness with Baileys.
- If you love cream cheese frosting, it goes really well with rich chocolate cupcakes and would be great here. Just note that the cupcakes should be refrigerated if they have cream cheese frosting on them.
- You can also feel free to make a filling for the cupcakes. You can either make more of the Guinness buttercream or you can make a Bailey's buttercream frosting filling or an Irish Whiskey filling (with Irish whiskey or Irish Cream liqueur). Or if you prefer, you can simply fill the cupcakes with a little chocolate ganache!
- As I mentioned above, if you want fun green frosting, you can use food coloring to dye your frosting green!
⏲️ How to store
While these Guinness cupcakes are always best the day they're made, frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
You can store cupcakes for longer in the refrigerator, but take note that refrigerating the cupcakes with suck some of the moisture and may dry the cupcakes out.
☘️ More St. Patrick's Day treats
If you're looking for more goodies to serve for St. Patrick's Day, I have lots of fun recipes for you... Many of them involving Lucky Charms and stouts! Here are some of my favorites:
- Baileys Ice Cream
- Lucky Charms Cookie Dough Bars
- Mint Macarons with Baileys Buttercream
- Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
- Lucky Charms Ice Cream
- Chocolate Stout Brownies
- Guinness Donuts with Irish Whiskey Frosting
- Lucky Charms Hot Chocolate
- Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Baileys Frosting
- Guinness Chocolate Cake (from Saving Room for Dessert)
And one of my favorite savory St. Patrick's Day recipes are these delicious corned beef melts!
And can I tell you a secret? These cupcakes taste even better with a glass of Guinness on the side!
Do you like to bake with Guinness during St. Patrick's Day?
- 1 ½ cups Guinness
- 9 Tbsp (1 stick + 1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp Guinness
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake papers.
- Place Guinness and cubed butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until butter melts; remove from heat.
- Whisk in brown sugar and cocoa powder.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk this mixture into the Guinness mixture.
- In a separate large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold this mixture into the Guinness mixture. Take care not to over-mix; a few lumps in your batter is OK.
- Bake cupcakes for 18-21 minutes, until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for a few minutes before moving to racks to cool completely.
- Once cupcake are cooled, frost with Guinness Frosting. I use a Wilton #1A tip to frost mine. Top with sprinkles if desired.
- In the bowl of a mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until it’s nice and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Add confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time and beat until well-combined. Mix in salt.